Fall Garden Update

It’s been a great year for the fall vegetables here in 2011. We’ve had ample rains and moderate weather, and so far by early November we’ve had several frosts but no freezing temperatures. The greens have been growing lush with all the rain.

Lacinato kale (click on any image to enlarge)

We’re growing some old standbys in the fall garden along with some newcomers. The Beira Tronchuda (aka Couve Tronchuda, aka Portuguese Kale) is a lovely plant, with an upright growth habit and leaves that resemble collards to some degree. This is my first time growing it. We’ve yet to harvest any of the leaves, but I do see some Caldo Verde in our future. Renee’s Garden Seeds has a good article about Portugese Kale on their blog, along with a recipe for the soup.

Tronchuda aka Portugese Kale

The leaves of the Tronchuda have white stems and veins, with fairly thick medium green leaves. I started our plants from seed back in early June, and set out husky transplants in the bed in early August. The plants are now around two feet tall.

Beira Tronchuda leaves

By contrast, the collard greens have slightly smaller leaves with green stems. We’re having a mess of them tonight, served along with some beans and cornbread.

collard leaves

The fall broccoli has certainly taken it’s time heading up. The same plants and varieties (Packman and Windsor), set out at about the same time, produced dinner plate sized heads several weeks ago at the Impact Community Garden. Ours are just now sizing up here. That’s all right – better late than never I say!

Packman broccoli heading up

I did get a harvest of the primary heads of the Piracicaba and Apollo varieties last week. The main heads on those varieties are smaller than most heading broccolis, but the side shoots are the real treat. The Apollo variety has long and tender stems (like broccolini).

side shoots on Piracicaba broccoli

The rest of the kale in the main garden plot is growing strong. We’ve got Beedy’s Camden and Lacinato Rainbow growing thanks to a seed swap with Mr H. from the Subsistence Pattern blog. Both of these varieties are reported to be especially winter hardy. I plan on covering them with some row cover material a bit later in the season to give them a little extra protection. We haven’t harvested any from them just yet. I’m saving the hardier types for later in the season. And the flavor will just keep getting better with more cold weather.

Beedy's Camden kale

Assuming they make it through the winter intact, I will be saving seed from one of these varieties next spring. I would save more than one, but I am guessing they will bloom about the same time which would result in some unwanted cross pollination. We will see how that works out.

Rainbow Lacinato kale

I also have cabbage and cauliflower planted and they are just now heading up. Cauliflower is one of the more difficult vegetables we grow, so it’s always a surprise if they actually give us something to eat. Looking down into the center of the plant in the below photo, there is a tiny little cauliflower starting to form. So maybe there is hope for some this year.

baby cauliflower head forming

That’s a look at what’s growing here in the main garden this fall. I’ll do an update on what’s growing in the rest of the gardens and greenhouse soon.

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15 Responses to Fall Garden Update

  1. Jody says:

    I know we’re in the same zone, but boy does your weather report sound better than ours. We’ve had several below freezing days this week and there are more to come. Our plants are holding up well enough, but I’m afraid there won’t be enough days to bring them to full maturity.

    It sure is great to see you having success with so many vegetables and such a variety too. I’m encouraged to see just how successful fall gardening can be. Your hard work and gardening sense is paying off for sure.

  2. debsgarden says:

    Your veggies look wonderful! For several reasons, in my mind you are the epitome of the ideal vegetable gardener. I planted a fall vegetable garden for the first time ever this year. My plot is small but contains several varieties of lettuce, chard, collards, spinach, and broccoli. No sign of heads on my broccoli yet, and I’m beginning to wonder about them. Everything else is growing great, and I think I may prefer a fall garden to the frustrations of a heat and drought stressed summer one!

    • Dave says:

      Thanks Deb! I guess broccoli must have a mind of it’s own. It should stand quite a bit of cold weather, so maybe there is hope for yours and ours both. I do like the fall garden too. The pace seems to be a bit less hectic than with the summer veggies.

  3. mandy says:

    your broccoli is looking great! ours is just now forming the tiniest of heads; but the weather has been so fine i have high hopes! we’ve been really digging arugula the last few weeks. i love the pace of the autumn garden. thanks for mentioning these interesting varieties you are growing, i think i’ll give some of the a try next year.

  4. Prairie Cat says:

    I am rooting for your cauliflower; grow little guy, grow!

  5. Rick says:

    Wow Dave, everything looks great!! I’m jealous of your weather for sure. We have already had 3 hard freezes with snow on the way tonight! So the only thing left standing outside in our main garden is a little Tuscan kale. Everything else that is still growing around our place has to be in either the cold frames or the hoop houses. Dang Zone 5 weather, if I didn’t love where I live so much I’d move to a warmer zone!!

  6. You always have the most interesting greens growing in your garden. I’ve never seen rainbow lacinato (I grow the non-rainbow variety), and I’ve certainly never seen Portuguese kale. It looks absolutely huge! I wonder if you could stuff the leaves, and make some sort of steamed roll out of them? Amazing. We’re giving romanesco a whirl this fall. Cauliflower has been persnickety for us before, so it will be interesting to see if this does any better. You’re ahead of us on broccoli, but I’m hoping to have some ready for Thanksgiving.

  7. Mike says:

    Your winter greens are looking good. We grew Portugese kale for the first time this year, I made great use of it and was especially happy with how sweet the stems were…will definitely have it in next year’s garden. I think you will really like the Rainbow Lacinto kale and will be interested to see what you think of both varieties.

  8. Mike R says:

    A really nice selection of brassicas, and getting some heads of broccoli is an added bonus in the fall. The cauliflower may or may not produce depending on what Mother Nature deals you, but it’s certainly worth a try. I was really lax about getting some Fall brassicas going, and only have two Chinese cabbage to show for it. The survival rate for direct seeding in the beds is really awful. The weather in October has been really good for gardening in SW Indiana. We got about two weeks of near total overcast weather in September and that really set things back a bit but since then the plants really had a second growth spurt until last weekends frost.

  9. Diana says:

    Broccoli Packman is always a stellar performer in our garden: side shoots keep us in broccoli most of the year except in the dry heat of the summer when they seem to collect mites; last year we also tried Piracicaba, but it was not the performer. Kale we love, and recently started Lacinato… had beautiful plants and something stripped every one of them. 🙁

    Your plants all look so healthy and robust.

  10. Your veggies look wonderful and yummy! I do not have a fall garden this year, so I am really jealous.


  11. Liz says:

    I love Calvo Verde although Portuguese sausage being difficult to come by here I usually either make it with chorizo or vegetarian. I love watching cauliflowers form – I hope yours are big, white and delicious!

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